Woman born with vocal chord paralysis

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Woman, 29, with vocal chord paralysis who struggles to speak loudly reveals she’s been forced to quit her job at a dog groomers and can never go to the pub because it’s too noisy to be heard

  • Claudia Serra, 29, who lives in Croydon, was born with vocal chord paralysis 
  • Has struggled to find a job where she doesn’t need to strain or raise her voice
  • Revealed her rare condition has been beneficial for listening to others

An Italian woman living in the UK has revealed that she has struggled to get a job that accommodates her need for a quiet environment where she doesn’t have to strain or raise her voice.

Claudia Serra, 29, who lives in Croydon, noticed that she was unable to scream like the other children while growing up in Italy, but wasn’t diagnosed with vocal chord paralysis until age 16. 

She underwent three surgeries with the aim of making her breathy, quiet voice louder but only achieved temporary results, and the rare condition dramatically impacts Claudia’s quality of life, recnetly forcing her to quit her job at a pet grooming salon. 

‘This brought me a lot of sadness…I have never been able to enjoy a nice evening in the pub, or go out for dinner with a group because it is difficult to be heard in noisy environments. Otherwise at the end of the day, vocal fatigue assaults you and you no longer want to talk to anyone,’ Claudia told My London.  

Claudia Serra, 29, (pictured) who lives in Croydon, has revealed the challenges of living with voice chord paralysis

Claudia Serra, 29, (pictured) who lives in Croydon, has revealed the challenges of living with voice chord paralysis 

Claudia has had vocal chord paralysis since being born prematurely when her mother was six months pregnant. 

She attempted to overcome the condition with speech therapy after finishing school, however her voice failed to get louder despite nine months of twice-weekly sessions. 

The 29-year-old entirely lost her voice for a week after undergoing a procedure that involves injecting fat into the vocal cords to increase their volume in 2014, but tried it again a year later.

Each of the Injection Laryngoplasty procedures only temporarily improved Claudia’s condition, with doctors in Italy eventually claiming that they were unable to do anything else.   

Claudia (pictured) said the rare condition left her unable to scream like the other children while growing up

Claudia (pictured) said the rare condition left her unable to scream like the other children while growing up 

Claudia left her job at a dog grooming salon after having had three surgeries in an attempt to make her voice louder

Claudia left her job at a dog grooming salon after having had three surgeries in an attempt to make her voice louder 

What is vocal chord paralysis?

According to the NHS, vocal chord paralysis is the inability to move the vocal cords. This may affect only one or both of the cords. 

In some situations the cause of condition is unknown, however stroke, viral infection, trauma to the head and damage between the nerves and muscles within the larynx have also been citied as reasons.

Sufferers of vocal chord paralysis may notice a decrease in the volume of their voice, a change in tone and difficulty to make themselves heard in noisy environments. 

Treatments can include voice therapy, bulk injections and surgery, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Claudia said her condition affects every area of her life daily, so she was hopeful that undergoing a thyroplasty in October 2021 after moving to London would deliver results.

The procedure, which involves an implant being inserted through the cartilage into the voice box only made Claudia’s voice louder for two months.

She explained that the fatigue and severe neck pain of struggling to communicate made her leave her job at a dog grooming salon.

It was particularly difficult to communicate in a loud environment with dryers and dogs barking. 

‘It’s not just about having a hoarse or lower tone – the voice is a delicate communication tool,’ she said, describing the voice as ‘the mirror of the soul’. 

She had hoped that the third surgery would have resolved her issues of being heard, but is now waiting to learn if a fourth surgery will go ahead. 

Claudia has set up an Instagram account and YouTube channel to help others who have vocals problems not to feel alone.  

 

Claudia said her vocal condition has made her a'sensitive person who knows how to listen'

Claudia said her vocal condition has made her a ‘sensitive person who knows how to listen’

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